Feast of the Ascension – 2023

Depending on where you are in the world, there is the possibility that the feast of the Ascension will supersede the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The Ascension fell on May 18 this year and either your local diocese or conference of bishops will have decided which readings will be used for this Sunday. So, to cover all my bases, the reflection here is a reflection on the Feast of the Ascension. The YouTube video for the week considers the Gospel for the Seventh Sunday of Easter. No matter which place you went first, and even if you don’t make it to the other reflection, I hope that something here will be meaningful for your week.

It in interesting that we hear the story of the Ascension as told by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles for the First Reading, and then the Great Commission from St. Matthew for the Gospel. This is the final moment of Matthew’s Gospel, it is how he concludes the whole story.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations

Matthew 28:19

I love reading different Bible translations. I find language fascinating and if I could have all the time in the world, I think I would have studied Biblical Greek and Hebrew so I could go back and read these texts in their original forms. One Bible translation I find particularly interesting (I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but it’s been a while), is called The Message. It is originally a Protestant translation, but there is a version which includes the books the Catholic Church maintains as the original canon of Scripture. This translation was intended to be a more “modern” translation. The translator, a pastor named Eugene H. Peterson, explains it this way:

I became a ‘translator’…daily standing in on the border between two worlds, getting the language of the Bible that God uses to create and save us, heal and bless us, judge and rule over us, into the language of Today that we use to gossip and tell stories, give directions and do business, sing songs and talk to our children.

The Message, pg. 12

Peterson is good about being upfront that this Bible isn’t meant to replace other study Bibles or translations used for liturgical practices. This is a reading Bible, a “let’s get to know one another” Bible. I love how he chose to translate the passage I quoted above.

Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life

Matthew 28:19

It is the same thing, but I find the word “train” to hit a little differently. I also find the phrase, “in this way of life” impactful. In order to train someone, first we have to know what we are teaching. For a lot of us, this might make us suddenly uncomfortable. This even makes me uncomfortable to a certain extent. For a large part of the Church’s history, the laity were not part of the teaching apparatus of the Church. Clergy and religious, who were able to receive additional schooling, time for prayer, mentorship, etc., were the ones looked to for passing down the faith. As time has passed, the Holy Spirit has inspired the Church to encourage all the baptized to take Jesus’ Great Commission to heart. These words aren’t simply for clergy, they are for all disciples.

Each one of us is called to be a disciple. A disciple is someone who not only follows a master, but promotes and spreads those teachings which they have received. Jesus lays out for us very clearly what He expects of His disciples. And it’s not always easy, especially when you consider Peterson’s translation in The Message. We are asked to train everyone you meet. Everyone? Even people we don’t like? Even people we will only interact with once? Even people we converse with online?

This is the thing about the Great Commission of Jesus. To be a disciple doesn’t mean living according to the teachings of Jesus when it’s convenient, or on Sunday mornings. It is an all or nothing kind of thing.

But before you get scared away. Consider this. Jesus doesn’t ascend into heaven to get away from us. Pope Francis explains it better than I can in his homily for the Feast of the Ascension in 2014:

“Jesus departs, he ascends to Heaven, that is, he returns to the Father from whom he had been sent to the world. He finished his work, thus, he returns to the Father. But this does not mean a separation, for he remains forever with us, in a new way. By his ascension, the Risen Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles — and our gaze — to the heights of Heaven to show us that the end of our journey is the Father. He himself said that he would go to prepare a place for us in Heaven. Yet, Jesus remains present and active in the affairs of human history through the power and the gifts of his Spirit; he is beside each of us: even if we do not see him with our eyes, He is there! He accompanies us, he guides us, he takes us by the hand and he lifts us up when we fall down. The risen Jesus is close to persecuted and discriminated Christians; he is close to every man and woman who suffers. He is close to us all; he is here, too, with us in the square; the Lord is with us! Do you believe this? Then let’s say it together: the Lord is with us!”

How beautiful is this! We are called to be disciples, but we do not do it alone. Never alone. The tasks of discipleship are challenging. We can’t get around that. This feast forces us to take a good look at our lives. Are we living out the tasks Jesus has given us? How can we more fully realize Jesus’ desire for our lives? Where is Jesus calling you to go out and train everyone you meet?

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Third Sunday of Lent 2023

These Gospel passages just keep getting bigger and bigger. There’s so much that can be said about the story of the Woman at the Well. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around how to speak well about this critical story in just a few short minutes on YouTube.

I settled on the importance of water and the lessons we can learn about setting priorities. Water is essential for life. We cannot live long without it. It is something we need to be aware of at all times. I cannot imagine living in Jesus’ time, needing to carry water to my home every single day. It is hard enough keeping water in my little boys’ water bottles throughout the day, and I have a sink!

Water is something we learn to prioritize early in life. This Gospel passage caused me to ponder what else we prioritize in our lives. How does our schedule reflect what we consider the most important?

I recently wrote an article for Catholicmom.com that I think speaks well to the topic of priorities, but with a twist. It’s an article about wasted time and making a conscious effort to slow down our day. Today will never be here again, tomorrow is something new. We ought to savor each day even as we work and play. However, if we don’t prioritize what’s most important, our days fly by and we stand to miss out on many blessings God wishes to give us.

This week, whenever you drink water, think about the most important things in your day. How are you prioritizing your time? Have you put the first things first? Ask the Holy Spirit to inspire your prayer to help you discern how to spend your time.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Shaking the Laundry

Our family was blessed to live a few hours from my husband’s grandmother for several years before she passed away. In that time, she became another grandmother to me and I cherish the memories of my time in her home. 

One day, while she was doing laundry, she commented about how busy everyone is. “Look,” she said, “It doesn’t take that much time to shake out the clothes as they come out of the wash. You can save yourself so much ironing time by just shaking each thing out a little before throwing it in the dryer. And everything dries more quickly too, not all clumped up after spinning in the washing machine.”

I can still remember my reaction to this statement. Number 1, I don’t iron. Pretty much never, do I iron anything. Number 2, I have absolutely no time to be shaking out baby clothes because I don’t want them too wrinkly. At the time of this conversation, I was pregnant with our 5th baby and our oldest was only 7.

But this memory has stuck with me. It’s several years later, we have 6 kids now, and I still probably don’t have time for shaking out laundry. Except I do, if I’m going to be truly honest.

I was spending my day recently thinking about the Gospel parable of the poor widow and the two coins from Mark 12:41-44 and this was the memory that came to me. The widow gave fully of what she had, she didn’t hold anything back from God. She trusted that He was big enough to care for her as she opened her hands and let fall from them all that she had. How she challenges me to open my hands a bit further, to offer to God more of myself.

Just as the woman wasn’t making grand gestures by the world’s standards, I am not called to either. I am living an ordinary life, with mundane daily tasks and often repetitious chores. What use are these little tasks when compared with the influencers I see on YouTube or the writers and speakers who inspire hundreds, millions? They are worth more than gold if they are to be the path upon which I arrive in heaven. It all starts with doing them with that purpose in mind. 

What does this look like in my life? It means slowing down to shake out the laundry. And that’s what I did with the sheets that day. This simple action afforded me the time to be thankful for the conveniences like a washer and dryer, that my kids have enough clothes to wear, and Ben has a job which allows me to stay at home with our little ones. By being fully present in my task at hand, I am not filling my mind with anxieties for the future or fussing over past sorrows. If my mind is full of gratitude, it naturally inclines itself to a Godly perspective. Through God’s eyes, no moment, no chore, is wasted time if it is done in His presence and as a gift for His glory.

This perspective of living in the present moment, that no moment is wasted in God’s eyes, and that my work however small or humble from a worldly perspective has significance in my life’s journey is what I am carrying forward as the New Year continues to unfold.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com